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Huggins frustrated about turnovers, talks protocols and depth after loss to Texas

West Virginia opened conference play with a 74-59 loss to No. 17 Texas on Saturday. The Mountaineers were without leading scorer Taz Sherman as well as Gabe Osabuohien and Kobe Johnson. Despite being without a few key pieces, head coach Bob Huggins was frustrated with the guys who were on the floor, especially them taking care of the basketball.

“Obviously when you play without the best player in the league it’s going to affect you,” Huggins said. “Two other guys who contribute a lot to us, it’s not going to be easy, but with that being said you can’t turn it over 20 times”

West Virginia was able to keep up with Texas early in the first half, with the game tied 14-14, with 10:10 remaining. In the last ten minutes of the first half however, Texas went on a 25-10 run. West Virginia turned the ball over 12 times in the first half, and went 8-of-25 from the field.

Huggins said the Mountaineers did not run offense the way they were supposed to and after Sean McNeil and Jalen Bridges made shots early, Texas started to guard them more heavily.

“They did a better job of guarding Sean (McNeil) and they did a better job of guarding JB (Bridges) as the game went on,” Huggins said. “We were in transition situations a lot more than we were in half court situations. We did not run offense. For whatever reason, I don’t know. We didn’t do it out of a timeout after it was drawn up and showed to them. We have a set that we run to start practice every single day and you would think if we run it in practice every single day, that you could put it in, and they didn’t run it.”

The Mountaineers were forced to rely on Bridges along with other players to step in and fill the void of Sherman, Osabuohien and Johnson. Bridges tied his season high with 18 points, while Malik Curry was the only point guard Huggins could use as Kedrian Johnson got hurt. Curry had 14 points of his own, but him along with Jamel King and Dimon Carrigan all had increased roles.

Huggins said Bridges had been working on shooting the ball better recently and was thankful for having Curry as another point guard.

“JB (Bridges) is good. I think he struggled because he wasn’t making shots. He spent time in the gym and he’s been making shots in practice and he obviously made shots tonight, I thought JB played well. We have two point guards, so we try to play the one that’s playing the best that day. Keddy got hurt, thank god we have another point guard. Hopefully he’s back for the next game,” Huggins said on Bridges and Curry.

“I wanted to see what he would do in front of people. He’s played pretty well in practice. Tried to get him a little bit of game experience,” Huggins said of King.

As for when West Virginia will possibly get the three guys out in COVID-19 protocols and the possibility of them returning before West Virginia’s Jan. 8 game against Kansas State, Huggins said he just doesn’t know.

“I don’t know. I’ve heard various scenarios and I don’t know which one is the believable one,” Huggins said of the possible return of Sherman, Johnson and Osabuohien.

Huggins followed up by praising his players for how diligent they have been with following the rules that are in place to try and keep them in place so an outbreak does not happen.

“We’ve done everything we can possibly do. Out guys by the way have been fantastic. Been fantastic in doing everything we’ve asked them to do in terms of the protocols. We went as far as we all masked up on the plane, even though it was us on the plane. Didn’t have to do that and I asked them to do it and they did it.,” Huggins said. “They’ve been very compliant with everything we’ve asked them to do. I don’t know anymore than you guys know. I wish I did.”

Huggins and his team will be on a week-long break following today’s loss. West Virginia returns home for their first home game of 2022, as they play Kansas State on Saturday, Jan. 8.

Photo by Dale Sparks, All Pro Photography

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